Friday, November 9, 2012

Don't Let Your Character Shy You From Buddhist Practice

Life is too short. Even though some people say I do not improve even though having been to 'retreats' and all that, isn't it true that only sick people need medicines? I know myself better. I will be in a worse position if I don't. Going to such retreats creates a strong imprint which can potentially manifest in future lifetimes, possibly at moments when you need them most. It will reconnect you with the Buddha Dharma even though you may not have resolved your internal 'weaknesses' such as anger, greed, and many delusions. I will not be able to know what sort of religions there will be in the future lives, but based on current ones, I cherish the freedom I get in Buddhism. And I certainly want to reconnect back with my spiritual path in my future lives. After this one is long gone, we are going to have different family members, different environment, different world. So I am not going to let the circumstances of this life undermine my intention to start planting causes and condition to shape my potential future life. Even though I have not exactly gotten rid of my anger, lust, greed, hatred, whatever else.... despite all my negative actions, and I am not giving excuses not to continue to work on them, but I still have not forgotten my path. There is still much that I can do to help sentient beings in various small ways. A few weeks ago, I helped a small house lizard escape out of its 'vajra hell'. Its 'vajra hell' is my house kitchen sink! It was circling round and round and unable to climb out. I am not sure what happened to its ability to climb on vertical surfaces. The sink was not wet or oily. Anyway, it was very tired by the time I saw it and would have died had I not intervened to help it. But it was quite a task to help it as every time I go near it with a piece of paper to push it out of the sink, it ran away from it. This helped me realise that we could be in a similar position. We could be constantly running away from the Buddha's compassionate and tireless effort to give us blessings. Through our own ignorance, we shy away from the Buddha's wisdom and compassion. In the case of Pure Land Buddhism, we are likened to running from Amida's Vow (or not recognising it), even though Amida's Vows are always around us. While trying to help it, I was also chanting some mantras for it to hear, even though it probably could not hear it or could not make any sense of it. But it's okay because it is the connection with the Dharma that I was trying to impart to it. In the end, using some ingenuity, I put a long stick from the top of the sink to the bottom and slowly with another piece of paper, I pushed it when it was too tired to move. Helping sentient beings are much like that. Bodhisattvas must never abandon a sentient being in need, even if it is just a house lizard. It also depends on our innate wisdom and skillful means to respond in the most appropriate manner to sentient being's unique situations. So the lizard crawls out and hid itself underneath a rack for plates and cups. Animals constantly live in fear. This small incident made me realise so many things, and I thought I want to share. I realise that it is not the life of a lizard that really needs saving, rather it is connecting an animal with no Dharma connection to someone with some Dharma connection. If the lizard is lucky, it will die soon thereafter and be reborn in a better realm of existence. Saving the life of the lizard is not the actual animal liberation, rather causing it to be reborn in a better realm is. I think that is important. Hence despite my carelessness sometimes with other humans, there are times when I have shown my little bit of compassion and wisdom. The latter can only be possible due to my little involvement with the Buddha Dharma. That is why one should not shy away from it.

Bottom line is - don't let anyone tell you not to go for meditation retreats, chantings or even involve yourself in Buddhist activities based merely on your outer character. Don't be disillusioned! Don't shy away from receiving help from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, who are always there for us. Don't feel that you are not joining or quiting because you have not improved despite being involved in it for so many years. Delusions are not that easily uprooted after aeons of its dictatorship!

So... due to the necessity to continue to work on my internal issues, to repent and the need to plant imprints for the future, I will be gone for a while....and I may not be able to write anything in this blog for a while. It does not mean I will be a better person after I return. It may be the same old me from other's perspective. But I will still go because from my point of view, it will not be the same old me. Be patient and take care. I pray that my protectors will take care of my family members and home while I am away! Om Mani Padme Hum! Om Tare Tutare Ture Svaha!

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They are rather new and need your support to make the Buddhist community in NC grow.

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